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Argentina's ‘March of the Cap’, a Movement That Won't Stay Silent on Deadly Police Brutality

Marcha de la gorra

Image from the public Facebook page of the March of the Cap.

For nine years now, every November 20 the March of the Cap makes its way through the Argentinian city of Cordoba, located in the heart of the country. It is a protest against the “trigger-happy” local police and the lynchings, persecution, and discrimination that the people experience on their watch.

The name of the march comes from urban slang in Spanish for police –“cap” — and intends to constitute a general challenge to the abuses of law enforcement. As the organizers describe it:

We are the march that roundly rejects the police state that excludes, represses, persecutes, stigmatizes, and kills. #MarchadelaGorra

Author and researcher Esteban Rodriquez Alzueta further explained the reasons for the march in an editorial for news site Página 12 (Page 12):

Es una marcha contra la policía, pero también contra los vecinos alertas. Si no hay olfato policial sin olfato social, eso quiere decir que detrás de la brutalidad policial está el prejuicio social. Los estigmas que cotidianamente destilan esos emprendedores morales crean condiciones de posibilidad que habilitan y legitiman a las policías a estar de manera discrecional y violenta en los barrios más pobres.

This is a march against the police, but it also against neighborhood alerts. There is no police sense without a social sense, which is to say that behind the police brutality there is social prejudice. The stigmas which are distilled daily by these moral entrepreneurs create the conditions that facilitate and legitimize police officers’ discretionary and violent presence in the poorest neighborhoods.

He also added statistics which confirm how much random detentions in Cordoba have skyrocketed over the last years:

En la provincia de Córdoba se produjeron en 2011, 73.100 detenciones por averiguación de identidad, es decir, se llevaron a cabo 2209 detenciones cada 100.000 personas. Más de la mitad de ellas tuvo lugar en la capital. El 86 por ciento de la población objeto de estas prácticas son hombres. El 70, jóvenes menores de 35 años, y la causa que según la policía motivó su accionar fue el “merodeo”.

In the province of Cordoba in 2011, there were 73,100 detentions for identity checks, which is to say that there were 2,209 detentions carried out per 100,000 people. More than half of these took place in the capital. Eighty six percent of the population subject to these practices are men. Seventy percent are youth under 35 years of age, and the reason the police gave to justify its actions was “prowling”.

The Facebook page “Colectivo de Jóvenes por Nuestros Derechos (Collective of Youth for Our Rights) draw attention to different cases of police abuses. One of them tells the story of Daniel Robles, who was on vacation in Cordoba and was arbitrarily detained for 40 hours for “attempted robbery”. Another case is that of Nyko Nadal's, a 16-year-old who was chased and shot at by the police, even though he was unarmed at the time, after he took a taxi. Or the case of Christian Guevara, who died at a precinct after he took a beating at the hands of the police, who later tried to hide the truth by stating that it had been suicide.

The journalists network Cosecha Roja (Red Harvest) also published similar cases of sometimes deadly police brutality:

A Ezequiel lo hicieron ahogar en el barro podrido del Riachuelo. A Jonathan y Brian les dispararon arriba de un auto. A Ramón un gendarme le dio un tiro en la cabeza por defender a otro pibe. A Luciano lo habían amenazado y golpeado. Apareció, 6 años después, como NN en Chacarita. A Mariano y a Darío los fusilaron por la espalda. A Kiki lo asesinó un policía que lo acusó de querer robarle el auto.

They drowned Ezequiel in the rotten mud of the Riachuelo. They open fire on Jonathan and Brian inside a car. A policeman shot Ramón in the head for defending another guy. They threatened and beat Luciano. He appeared, six years later, as an unclaimed body in Chacarita. They executed Mariano and Dario on the back. Kiki was murdered by a police officer who accused him of trying to rob his car.

The issues go beyond detentions and police killings to include the social education centers, or boys and girls jails, which according to the march's website are not spaces which contribute to education due to their limited resources.

While the March of the Cap has taken place every year in the province of Cordoba, in 2015 similar protests also took place in other cities, such as La Plata, Rosario, Mendoza and the city of Buenos Aires, making this march one of the largest and most well-organized in Argentina. Organizers also want to reclaim popular culture and to denounce institutional abuse, as the official website states:

Somos nosotros y nosotras. Somos los pibes y las pibas de los barrios, de los bailes y las canchas, de las cárceles de todo el país. Somos las trabajadoras y los trabajadores que luchamos todos los días por la dignidad; que soportamos la explotación, el salario bajo y la represión de la cana cuando protestamos. Somos las trabajadoras sexuales históricamente criminalizadas, asesinadas en la clandestinidad, golpeadas y perseguidas por los gobiernos que son cómplices de los responsables de la trata y el proxenetismo. Somos las y los estudiantes que luchamos por la educación pública, gratuita, de calidad y laica. Somos artesanos y artesanas, carreros, somos quienes impedimos que Monsanto se instale en Córdoba y quienes luchamos para que Porta se vaya de nuestros barrios. Somos las radios abiertas y comunitarias, los medios alternativos. Somos las murgas y los movimientos culturales. Somos mujeres y varones hartos de que nos maten por el sistema machista hetero patriarcal, por la homo – lesbo – trans – fobia, los femicidios, y travesticidios.

We are women and men. We are the guys and girls from the ‘hoods, from the dances, and the football fields, from the jails all over the country. We are the workers who fight every day for dignity; who put up with exploitation, low wages and brutal repression when we protest. We are the sex workers who have historically been criminalized, murdered in secret, beaten and persecuted by governments complicit with those responsible for our trafficking and pimping. We are the students who fight for free, quality, and secular public education. We are artisans, drivers, we are those who won't let [agricultural giant] Monsanto into Cordoba and who fight for [licor factory] Porta to leave our neighborhoods. We are the open community radios, the alternative media. We are the street musicians and the cultural movements. We are women and men who are sick and tired of being killed because of this chauvinistic patriarchal hetero system, of the homo- lesbo- trans- phobia, and sick of the murder of women and transvestites.

For the announcement of the latest march on November, 18, 2015, the website launched this video which meant to redefine the march as a popular movement as stated above.

Here are some images from the last March of the Cap:

La lucha está en las calles #MarchaDelaGorra

A photo posted by G I A N N A (@gia.gianni) on

Instagram caption: The struggle is in the streets.
T-shirt reads: “Under every cap is a guy with his story”.

9a. Marcha de la Gorra #marchadelagorra #streetphotography #photojournalism #apagency #agenciatelam #everydaylatinamerica

A photo posted by Carlos Paul Amiune (@polo1738) on

Written on banners from left to right: “Justice for Rodrigo Sanchez”, “Enough!!! Lucas Carranza another police murderer!”

Instagram caption: Nine years marching for the repeal of the law of infractions. For your police state, we protest! *the city is beautiful*

Taking into account the warm reception that the march received in 2015 and its broader invitation to the public, some have already begun to confirm their participation via Twitter for the next March of the Cap.

I swear on my father that I'll be at the next march of the cap

The march of the cap 2016/2017 I have to be there

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